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Last bit of 2011 and into 2012



As this is a wood blog ...


... I should start by saying I have been searching all round the country for good stock. Well, ok I have mostly been sat on my arse but my mate Andy has been. All the exotics he keeps for his mail order business but is generous with sharing the English Hardwoods.


Typical email : Have found 18" Walnut and clean Yew, not quite enough for a lorry so do you want it. My response : Buy buy buy bye bye! As it happened on this occasion both Walnut and Yew were crap- when will I ever find clean Yew?


When my bald patches ...


... started to look like joining up I decided to give up on the hair and after mastering the razor am now bald as a badger's arse. This doesn't affect new customers but has proved good for business with the regulars.


I register the look of concern in their eyes as they think : Has he got The Big C & if he is likely to pop off in the next year I'd better buy a bit more wood now whilst I can !


Firewood Steve aka ...


... Diesel Steve depending on whether he is renting out diesel generators or flogging firewood is an interesting bloke. He is a mine of information about everything from cost of producing and delivering firewood to the nearest penny, to where to get whatever you need for the best price.


It's a good job he is interesting as he can talk the hind leg of a donkey and is a class above Tom and me who have been known to blah for England. Consequently you have to add 45 mins on to every visit to allow for his info overload but it's worth it.


Swapping my cordwood ...


... for big lumps of Oak etc that he has bought by the lorry load suits us both. Smaller stuff fits his processor better and doesn't need chainsawing. His yard is also handily placed for a short trip to Mark at Andover Down sawmill.


The rather big bit o' Lime pictured below headed straight up there. It was a bit of sod to handle but Mark worked his magic & managed to get me some straight looking slabs up to 6" thick.


Steve has lots of big boy's toys such as his skid steer which moved this Lime easily

A hideously fat ugly and smelly ...


... woman silenced a pub by shouting:


"If anyone can guess my weight they can take me home & shag me senseless".


You could hear a pin drop until a lone voice said " 93 stone you fat cow ".


To which the lady responded "That's near enough you lucky bastard"

Like last year the final ...


... charcoal burn of the season was the best. It was nearly the worst ever ! The previous effort had come up undercooked so we were determined to ring a few changes and give it more air. We also packed it more carefully and the coppice from Tom's spring efforts were nicely seasoned.


Tom was a bit arsey ...


... that all his team's work in the spring wasn't blogged in more detail but I spare you the hard toil and blackthorn splinters for more interesting bits. The above joke was one of Tom's- I cleaned it up a lot actually!


I won't go into the charcoal making process as there is a blog on it, innit but have to report a nasty moment when after cracking the beast open two days later it to burst into flames again. Controlled panic got it airtight and eventually it cooled and a good harvest was gathered.



He isn't praying to Mecca - just stapling the bags & swearing and moaning about my folding!


As it got colder...


... a bit of Beech felling was top of the ' to do' list. Getting someone ' to do' it proved hard as the usual suspects were all busy and not inclined to do it for me cheap! I briefly considered paying the going rate but broke out in a cold sweat and talked myself out of it.


I decided instead to complete the work on the rides which required digging up the worst of the stumps to allow easier topping in the symmer. Fortunately Gordy isn't the hardest person in the world to get to come and do his thing... as long as you don't hassle him !


His 4 tonne digger ...


... is a great bit of kit, I'd like one just to play with but like all diggers it looks easier than it actually is. The old bugger has had plenty of practice over the years and had cracked the task with sufficient time to help put new posts in for the inner gate and do a bit of other landscaping.


Admit it - you really fancy having a go at digging holes, it's a bloke thing !

Want a big old Apple Tree ? ...


... John the Madge asked back in the summer. To cut a long story a bit shorter the wily old sod nearly had me going halves on the cost of getting Erwin over to fell it. Fortunately I changed the deal to just pay for useable timber which was just as well as the top was like the lead singer of the Sex Pistols-Rotten.


I had fancied a trip out to work with Erwin rather than just meet up on a job to buy timber and I enjoyed it. His Unimog is a great bit of kit but I could see first hand what a sod it was to handle on the hilly narrow lanes.


He doesn't waste much time ...


... the Tree was cleaned and felled in no time and I cracked on with milling it by which time he had felled a silver Birch overhanging John's lane.


It didn't hang around long back at base before finding a new home.

The Trade Secret of Spalting ...


... Beech has been revealed to me. I would tell you but obviously I'd then have to kill you and I also wouldn't be able to charge extra for my best spalted stuff. Regular readers will know that I have tried various things over the years.


What has worked best has been burying it in the woods alongside relatives and customers who have annoyed me for a year or two, but this method is one month job!


For the month of October ...


... with my oppo Dave we prepared three 3 foot slabs from the same log. No1 we applied the secret formula and left it at the wood. No 2 we applied same stuff and I took it back to the Kiln to keep it a bit warmer. No 3 Dave took home convinced he could get better results with a secret mix of his own.


The result was interesting - well not that interesting but I don't get out much! The two bits with the trade secret had certainly spalted a bit but need more time but the best bit was by a long shot Dave's special lotion which produced some lines of Spalt.


Further dabbling to be done when we get round to it !

I've been on the lookout ...


... for some decent London Plane ever since I bought a cracking bit off Erwin's dad 10 years ago now. There isn't much of it about in Hampshire. It may suprise you to know that there is in London which of course is where it gets it's common name.


As I work there with the real job I have always wondered who felled the big buggers in the royal parks like Hyde and Green Park. I need wonder no more as now I know, though it took a long standing customer Rob from Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire to tell me !


Speak to Keith ...


... I reckon it will be worth your while emailed Rob. I did, it was- though like everything there are logistical difficulties. As you know I'm prepared to go to any amount of difficulty to bring you the best timber ... I emailed Andy and asked him to go have a lookee !


Actually we both had a look and before Christmas there was nothing to excite you but I am on the case and you will be the first to know when I get my hands on some lacewood.


Guitar Rob above is a ...


... customer going back years and a proper craftsman. Good bloke though he is I was surprised to find £300 transferred to my account without sending him any wood !- particularly as his usual spend is under £100.


I ' fessed up without being asked and he assured me it was a misdirection of funds to his saving account rather than a payment to another timber merchant... I believe him, the slut.


In the meantime with ...


... the mostly excellent Autumn and early Winter weather I spent my Sundays doing a bit of Ash thinning and collecting logs. Making a living selling logs requires expensive equipment and a bigger heart for hard work than I have.


I dabble, doing a bucket load at a time more for the exercise- it beats beating the wife and the Walnut tree... I haven't got a Whippet. If this makes no sense you need to read more old country sayings.




Sunshine, sawing and a bit of sweat beats the winter blues!

I found my first grey Pubic ...


... hair yesterday. I was rather upset - I don't usually get bothered by things like that but it was in a pastie I had just bought from Gregg's the Bakers!


Back to wood stuff ! ...


... New Forest Rob finally launched his all singing & dancing and very easy to use site for all your chainsaw bits and bobs including many things you didn't know you needed. It's designed to make the tricky bit of getting right chain for right bar etc etc a lot less painful.


Check it out http://www.chainsawbars.co.uk/

Christmas passed & 2012 ...


... sauntered in. Big year for me as I will be retiring after 31 years in the Met Police & turn 50 in April. I was thinking of going a bit earlier but have been hanging on just in case I get posted to the Beach Volleyball in Horseguard's Parade. Knowing my luck I'll get the men's comp or some other tedious non event.


It will make a change from juggling the wood business with the real job. Once I'm out I may share a tale or two about killing two birds with one response car.


In next episode ...


... you can find out why Tom and Joe below look so knackered and why Tom was shouting abuse from the top of a Beech tree that will shortly be processed and available to rent or preferably buy!



I have been nabbed...


... for Jury Service 13th- 27th February - I knew no good would come out of paying my rates and being on the electoral role, so not going to be doing much wood selling.


To make up for it I plan some extra days early March and Andy will be releasing some of his Elm and we will be premiering the A1 Oak from this time last year.


Till next one early summer.